Hard work gets tax refund!

It’s that time of year again, and I’ve been struggling with HMRC’s idea of a website to fill my tax return.  Actually I first went there and did the easy bits several weeks ago, and have returned a couple of times, but doing it out of office hours just left me unable to chase missing information.  So today I returned at a time when I expected them to be at work.

In previous years, I’ve found it fairly straightforward.  At least, to the extent that everything I had to tell them fell neatly into their defined categories.  This year, things were different.  Having had a couple of royalty payments from a foreign publisher, I ticked the box for having foreign income.  Then I looked around the foreign income section of the tax return, which is where it got difficult.  Nothing for royalties!  I selected “other” from the box, and it duly displayed a page for “other” foreign income.  But that was just some fixed ideas about payments from a foreign trust – nothing remotely relevant there either.

To make it worse, there was no means to contact them.  The “ask a question” facility just tells me the service is unavailable – even today during working hours.  Some of their help documents are just plain illegible: I guess they’re using some obscure font I don’t have.  And finally, the “Contact us” menu option doesn’t get me any contact details, it just logs me out of the service.  Aaargh!!!

Finally I found a feedback option, and used it to have a moan and ask the question.  I submitted that, and it appeared to work.  More usefully, the “thank you, we’ll reply within 48 hours” page actually gave me a phone number.  So I phoned it.

The second person I spoke to was able to help.  The royalties should be entered under the heading of foreign pensions and benefits(!), and I could just deduct the costs of it (notary’s fee and travel to the US embassy) from the sum I entered.  It’s even OK to enter the actual £ sums from my bank statement, rather than give the US$ amounts.  Result!

Just waiting to confirm one of the figures before submitting.  But it won’t affect the amount payable, since it’s only a savings account with tax paid at source.  And here’s the good news.  Unlike last year when they decided I owed them a trivial amount, this year I’m due a substantial four-figure tax refund! I was aware there could be a significant adjustment: both WebThing and Sun had overpaid PAYE (my fault, not theirs – stemming from the transition between the two), but I thought tax due on the royalty would offset much of that.  So I’m happy to see it’s substantially in my favour.  I wonder if they pay interest on it?

Next year I should be due a bigger credit again.  But that’s because I’m actively optimising my tax this year.

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Posted on October 20, 2008, in tax. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Answer to your last question – yes they do pay interest on overpaid tax.

  1. Pingback: Online tax returns « niq’s soapbox

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